TEEN BEAT: There were estimates for 16 of the retailers reporting results Thursday, and 13 of the firms managed to exceed them, lifting the overall sales increase to 4.6 percent from its expected level of 3.4 percent. Nowhere were the beats louder than in the mercurial teen sector, where The Buckle Inc. and Zumiez Inc. reported 14.8 percent and 14.2 percent growth, respectively, the two highest levels of any stores, producing matching 9.1 percent upside surprises. Still, The Wet Seal Inc.’s 5.8 percent slide, less than the 9 percent expected, left the three surviving stores in the teen space with flat results.
STREAK BREAKER: Gap Inc. came up with a comp gain of 4 percent, nearly triple the 1.4 percent expected, its first positive result since a 1 percent pickup last June and its best mark since the first increase before that, the 8 percent leap of last April after a 10 percent decline in March. All three U.S. units tracked upward, led by a 12 percent gain at Banana Republic, with Old Navy and Gap posting more modest 5 and 1 percent gains, respectively. International fell 9 percent.
DYNAMIC DUOS: Like contenders for the presidency, the presence of peer competition seems to keep retailers on their toes. The TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. have been proving it for years, and the pattern continued in February with both reporting stellar 9 percent growth. Kohl’s Corp. seems to have lost a little bit of its merchandising mojo since midtier rival J.C. Penney Co. Inc. quit reporting comp results after those for December. In the two months since, its comps have risen a disappointing 0.6 percent and, most recently, 0.8 percent.